New SEND support for early years

The DfE has revealed the measures it will take to support children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in early years.


The support includes a new qualification at level 3 for practitioners and three financial contracts to support families and schools.

NDNA called for more financial support for practitioners in private, voluntary and independent nurseries.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA said: “We are very pleased that the Government is acknowledging that they need to support special educational needs.  

“Since local authority cuts have come into force, this essential area of support has depleted. We have continually highlighted the need to provide training and support to early years practitioners. In response to these findings, NDNA developed the SEND Champions programme funded by the DfE in which a ‘champion’ from a setting is trained up to make sure that best practice is embedded throughout that nursery. 

“The DfE has set out guidelines for a new qualification for Early Years SENCOs at level 3 which we welcome as part of the workforce strategy measures to improve children’s outcomes. However, funding to support the roll out of this does not appear to follow. More needs to be done to financially help those in early years settings, not just schools. 

“Our members have been concerned about a general lack of training around supporting the children who need the most attention.  In our most recent workforce survey, providers cited that training was very important in ensuring quality, but due to budget constraints most could only focus on mandatory training.” 

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi (pictured right) said: "We want every child to have the support they need to unlock their potential, no matter what challenges they face. Today’s data shows that almost all of SEN statements were reviewed on time, which is testament to the hard work of councils, their partners, and families all over the country to give children and young people with SEND the support they deserve.

"The new contracts we are announcing today, worth more than £25m, will build on the progress we have seen over the last four years to make sure children, young people and their families have access to excellent support to help guide them through the new system.

"We are also putting in place new measures to improve the SEND training available to school staff, including tools to develop the role of early years SEND coordinators – building on a commitment set out in our Early Years Workforce Strategy."

Read the announcement here.